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While demonstrators today outside the hotel in Tampa, Florida, wore pink and raised signs against President George W. Bush, delegates to the first-ever national training conference on sexual trafficking heard him, along with Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft, address the “heinous crime” of sex trafficking.
President Bush called sexual trafficking “one of the worst offenses against human dignity” and praised the audience for being “soldiers in the army of compassion.” He recognized that the work of today’s abolitionists is a “tough job” because it is a “fight against evil.” He said, “It takes a special kind of depravity to rob children of their innocence and to treat them as goods and commodities for sale.”
The President acknowledged the breadth of the sex trafficking problem and said that it brings “suffering to individuals and shame to the country.” He said that his administration has launched unprecedented domestic action that will focus on “compassionate outreach to victims.” Current investigations have doubled. The message to traffickers, he said, “is clear– America will not tolerate slave traders.”
The president received sustained applause when he declared that any efforts against sex trafficking must “deal with the problem of demand.” His program, “Operation Predator,” acknowledges prostitution’s inherent harm to women and that brothels depend upon sex trafficking to provide enough girls to serve their clientele.
Cuba has become a major destination for sex tourists and Castro has bragged that his nation has “the cleanest and most educated prostitutes in the world.” President Bush declared that he will not tolerate slave traders and encourage trafficking in children and women.
In his address, Jeb Bush spoke for the whole audience as well as the three major speakers when he said, “We are dedicated to seeing this tragedy erased.”
Gov. Bush announced that his state’s legislature had just passed a bill making trafficking a felony in Florida. That announcement won a standing ovation among the law enforcement officers, service providers and nongovernment organization leaders who are in the front lines of combating sex trafficking around the world.
Attorney General John Ashcroft cited Abraham Lincoln as the great emancipator of the 19th century, Franklin D. Roosevelt as the liberator of the 20th century, and George W. Bush as the leader in the 21st century who is dedicated to freedom for all, because “freedom is the Almighty’s gift to humanity.” Ashcroft praised Bush for seeking justice rather than revenge and for working toward a world “as it should be and as it will be.”
The president spent 10-15 minutes after his speech shaking hands and warmly greeting conference participants before leaving to walk past the demonstrating crowds outside the hotel whose “cause” is “choice” for women. Too bad they don’t understand the heinous consequences that come from the seeming “fantastic” choices facing women in the undeveloped nations of the world.
Janice Crouse, Ph.D., is CWA’s sex trafficking expert. She was chosen as a delegate to the sex trafficking conference in Tampa because of her abolition work over the past decade. President Bush spoke at the conference at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, July 16.